A New Bill Could Change How Iowa Uses Eminent Domain
Landowners have been worried over the last few months over whether or not the proposed carbon pipeline would cause their land to be seized due to eminent domain.
The proposed pipeline would stretch through five states from North Dakota to Illinois, and be the largest carbon capture project in the world, sending around 12 million tons of CO2 to North Dakota. The path of the pipeline would go through many landowners’ properties and farms.
According to a report by Radio Iowa, a bill that is scheduled for debate today would take away the Iowa Utilities Board’s power to grant eminent domain to private companies so they could build carbon pipelines or other similar projects. Republican Senator Jeff Taylor is the bill’s sponsor.
“There is neither constitutional nor ethical justification for the government to use its coercive power to seize private land or force an easement primarily for the benefit of wealthy, well-connected business owners,” Taylor said.
But not everyone is on board with the bill. Jeff Boeyink, a lobbyist for Summit Carbon Solutions told lawmakers that changing eminent domain rules would send the message that Iowa’s regulatory climate is unstable.
“With this bill, this project stops dead in its tracks,” Boeyink said. “That means all the tens of millions of dollars that have already been invested are lost, this project goes nowhere, farmers get no benefit, the ethanol plants we sign up are done.”
Landowners that were notified that their properties are along the proposed route, such as Dan Tronchetti, a farm owner in Greene County, spoke at the Senate subcommittee hearing on the bill yesterday.
“I thought I had property rights, but Summit Carbon is telling me I don’t…that they can ask for eminent domain and that I might as well go ahead and sign a voluntary easement,” said Tronchetti. “…I can’t believe that 40 years of hard work doesn’t mean anything.”
Kathy Stockdale, a farmer in Iowa Falls showed the committee a map of the pipeline, which is planned to go through the middle of her farm.
“We have 30 acres of wetlands right over here by where Summit is coming in,” Stockdale said. “…You can see that they’re going through a waterway up here. This is where the highly erodible is, so we are concerned because this is very sandy soil and when there’s rain, what’s going to happen to the pipeline underneath?”
Republican Senator Craig Williams was one of the people that voted to advance the bill but says that it's difficult to change regulations such as this.
“There are three or four other issues with this bill and I get that everybody wants us to pass this bill, I just don’t think that it does what you want it to do,” Williams said.
Others, such as Republican Senator Mike Klimsh say the bill is currently written too broad.
“I think that it would make it virtually impossible for pipelines that serve a public good or a public purpose to be able to exist or grow or even cross the state,” Klimesh said. “What I’m talking about is oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines…pipelines that move essential services.”
Klimsh adds the issue does merit discussion which is why he voted to pass the bill making it eligible for discussion in the Senate Commerce Committee today.